buring_cross.jpgARROYO GRANDE, Calif. (AP) _ A charred cross used in a hate crime has been returned to a California central coast church nearly two years after it was stolen.

The 11-foot cross was used as evidence to convict four people who stole the cross from Saint John's Lutheran Church and torched it near a black family's Arroyo Grande home.

The Tribune of San Luis Obispo (http://bit.ly/T14UZk ) says Arroyo Grande police returned the cross on Sunday.

A police news release says church members will work with a local artist on a display using the remains of the blackened cross.

Prosecutors say 33-year-old Jeremiah Hernandez, 36-year-old Jason Kahn, 20-year-old William Soto and 24-year-old Sara Matheny are serving prison terms for arson and hate crime convictions.